May 2021

Saturday 1: After finding the hummingbird feeder riddled with mould some time ago, we finally got the impetus to put it out again. This time it’s in the shade, so a little less likely to go “off”.

I’ve picked up a job that I can do! King County (that’s the area that contains Seattle) are working on a new Emergency Services Radio Network. What we are doing is the survey for establishing a baseline, by driving vans from the garage in Tukwila through specific areas and using the on-board radio systems to ping the tower, wait for a response and mark the location on the map as “done”. The tech stuff is done by the tester in the back seat and all I do is drive the van. We do an 8 hour shift from 6am to 2:30pm, Monday to Friday.

This is exciting because my hip prevents me from doing my regular job of looking after Seniors in their own homes..

Following on from last month, Julie and the other lady did in fact swap locations, so she is now “permanently” based in the Renaissance Hotel in downtown Seattle. If I don’t have any afternoon appointments, I can go there and wait until she finishes and we go home together. To get there, she uses a combination of buses.

  • DART (Dial A Ride Transportation) is part of Community Transit. It picks her up from home and takes her to the nearest Park & Ride, in Lynnwood.
  • Access Transportation, part of the Metro network, which takes her from there  to her workplace in Seattle.
  • Reverse those to return home.
  • Not to be confused with Paratransit, which provides a door to door service in Everett.

She’s working every Saturday this month, so I take her and pick up on those days.

Tuesday 4: Buddy hiding in a bag, while Holly doesn’t know what to do.

Thursday 6: Julie finally met her new VA Doctor for a checkup. She will need to have an MRI to see what is going on in her brain.

Some views from the work wanderings:

Seattle skyline from somewhere near West Seattle.

Looking from Mercer Island over Lake Washington.

We found a place where we could actually get close enough to see the water.

Looking over Renton and the same lake from somewhere near Burien. Click on it to see the bigger picture, then again to see it full size.

Sunday 9: April called in for Mothers Day and left us with a garden! Makes us feel good to look at them. Now we just need tidy up the patio. She also made dinner and Duncan came too. It was good to have the family together for a while.

Then the cats surprised us by sitting almost together. They are both enjoying the warmer weather.

Buddy making part of the decoration later in the day.

Friday 14: With my passport already expired, I really wanted to get it renewed, just in case I need it in a hurry. The nearest Consulate to Seattle in San Francisco, and the application MUST be made in person. Apparently, the Australian Passport is highly regarded around the world because of the stringent condition around issue and renewal. I finally bit the bullet and booked a day trip, starting with getting out of bed at 3am! Here’s me being organised, with everything I need in the small bag on the walking frame and boarding pass at the ready.

In SFO on the return trip, I came across the Napa Valley Farmers shop and sent this to Julie with “Choose one”. She chose the Hand and Nail Care.

Saturday 15: We noticed that the cats’ water bowl was almost dry, so I picked it up to wash it and refill it, to find a slug in the bowl. I was so surprised that I forgot to take a picture before the poor bugger went down the disposal unit in the kitchen sink, rather faster and possibly more humane than salting it. Julie looked it up, finding that they do drown in water, so we’re fairly certain that one of the cats brought it in somehow, probably Holly. Julie told both of them, “Don’t even try to kiss us!” 

With Julie at work, I had strict instructions to go to the last ever Federally subsidised “Farmers to Families” Food Bank at the local church. This is what I brought home. Amazingly, we are able to use most of it. In the past, we have passed on what we can’t use to others.

Buddy making sure that my stuff is safe.

Sunday 16: With the influx of stuff that needed to go in the freezer, we reignited a long running “discussion” on how to fit more stuff in it than it is designed to take. The result: we have ordered a 20″ freezer to take all of my “stuff”, like ice-cream and large ice packs for my knee, for example. Next step: figure out where to put it!

Monday 17: The situation at work has been rather fluid. We have had issues with the way that the software interacts with the radio signals. On Wednesday of last week, we were told “Don’t come in tomorrow, we will be working on the problem. You’ll all get a full day’s pay.” That then flowed over into Friday, so I actually got paid while I was in San Francisco. Then this morning, still sleep deprived from the trip, I tootled off down to Tukwila to start work, 35 miles and about 35 minutes. With time to spare when I got there, I checked my phone, to find a text from the boss to say that they won’t be needing us until Wednesday at the earliest. OK, then, 35 miles and about 40 minutes back home and crawled into bed for a while. I ended up having 4 days off on full pay!

Holly is rather fat for her size and had a large clump of fur on her back, where she couldn’t reach. Concerned that it might be an injury, we took her to the vet, where they shaved it all off. Good, not an injury. We have now started brushing her with a metal pronged brush every night.

From April: “Pumping gas with a mask on and a lady criticized me for it. Asked me if I was scared of catching something! I spun around and yes, my son who is in the car is Type1 Diabetic! She shut up and walked away! Boom, this momma bear roars!” Why the hell would someone ask anyone why they are wearing a mask?

Both of us are now fully vaccinated.

A big bee came in through the open patio door after dark. We tried to lure it out by turning off all the lights except the ones outside, to no avail. I eventually had to spray it with something, which killed the poor bugger rather quickly.

This week, we are feeding the cat for our neighbour Rose in apartment 213. It doesn’t eat or drink much, but it certainly can pee! She will be in Hawaii for the week with her daughter.

Tuesday 18: Buddy clearly enjoying the nice weather.

Both of them actually.

Wednesday 19: We found out today that Julie will be going to Spokane next week for a day to create a “popup” at the DoubleTree by Hilton hotel. It is a short term modified version of what she does here. If anyone walks in (highly unlikely), she will use a wet print method instead of the scanner. She’s going on Tuesday night, will stay with Janet overnight, work the Wednesday afternoon and fly home that night.

Thursday 20: Julie has pushed her cataract surgeries back so that she can go.

News from Duncan on the progress his “Service Dog in Training” Amara is making. She can lay down next to him for 15-20 seconds. At her age (1 year), that’s good. She will also need to get up on command. She already puts her head on his lap.

Friday 21: Julie has started off on her plan to go to the local YMCA gym every day (or at least almost every day) to strengthen her arms and legs, with her goal of being able to walk normally by Christmas. Her  transportation varies between Paratransit and Rodney or April.

I’m now back at work. Emily and I enjoyed our lunch by the Duwamish Waterway, with a barge going past.

Tuesday 25: Somewhere near White Center, looking down the power line (that’s actually about a 200ft drop), I was surprised to see what was “behind” the fence.

Seahurst Park, near Burien. Again, the trees washed up on the beach. Some of them appear to have sprouted too.

Julie was delivered to the airport for her flight to Spokane. On the way in, we came across a huge line of cars parked on the side of the road. A nearby sign said “Cell Phone Lot”, but that appeared to be rather empty. I appears that people don’t want to pay for sitting in the lot waiting for the “come pick me up” call, so they park on the side of the road instead. Having worked the morning in Seattle, she was pleased to stay with Janet overnight.

Wednesday 26: Buddy again, this time supervising the plants in their planter rack.

Emily and I were assigned to visit Vashon Island. Here, we are on the ferry to get there. The “V” card indicates to the loading staff that we are going to Vashon and therefore are placed in a location on the ferry where we can drive off at the first stop and not end up at the second stop.

Local wildlife, right after it was strolling down the road towards us.

Typical island property, where any beach or outlook is privately owned.

Meanwhile, Julie had a LONG day, working the morning, then waiting for me to pick her up, then waiting in the airport (as you do) and the flight.

Thursday 27: Today we were once again out in the mountains near North Bend.

We were out in the hills and came across a power line.
This was the first look: Video 13Mb.

Going Down: Video 66Mb.
Going Back up: Video 28Mb.
Going up in the opposite direction: Video 57Mb.
Please note that these are large-ish files if you have bandwidth limits.

Friday 28: Today we were once again out in the mountains near North Bend and Snoqualmie. BIG rocks out there.

One of our first stops was “DirtFish”, a race track. Our timing was perfect, as we had the whole site to ourselves while they were briefing their customers for the next race. We played while we worked! Here’s the Video 42Mb.

Julie and Janet had some real conversations last night and this morning, resulting in a decision for both of them to get a DNA test, to give them a better idea of their heritage, as they are adopted twins. They had lunch at a wonderful Mexican restaurant and arrived at the airport early. The return flight was early, and she appreciated the Alaska Airlines staff before, during and after both flights, getting her on and off the planes, then via wheelchair to baggage claim.

Here’s a video of her at Janet’s place, actually walking, upright and unassisted. It’s a real step (yes, pun intended) towards that goal of walking normally by Christmas.

Back at work, we also worked our way around a lake. Before we left the area, I needed a toilet and found this one. When I showed Emily this picture, she said, “Oh, it’s an outhouse.” I’d call it a “long drop”. I haven’t seen one of these since we were at Uluru with Eemeli.

I’ve come up with a better description of my job: The project is in preparation for the transfer of the Puget Sound Emergency Radio Network from analog to digital. The task is to conduct a comprehensive survey of the strength of radio signals from and to the existing towers in King County, by taking specialized equipment into each “tile” on a map of the county. A tile is a rectangle on the map and only exists on the map, not on the ground, We have to navigate into them from existing roads. The equipment sends a “Can you hear me?” signal to the tower and when it receives a response, it marks the tile as complete. I do the driving and Emily, the tester I usually work with, navigates and works the system on a company provided laptop.

Saturday 29: The cats spending time almost together.